Vaping crisis among teen girls

LETTERS: VAPE culture among teenage girls has reached a crisis point. Approximately one in four Malaysian teenage girls is a vaper. That is more than the number of smokers, drinkers, and drug users combined.

The statistics speak louder than words. The National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2022 found a significant increase in the prevalence of e-cigarette and vape use among teenagers.

The rise of smoking and vaping, especially, among young Malaysian women is troubling. This epidemic affects the very fabric of our nation.

Don't see it as just a statistic. It represents our sisters, daughters, and future mothers for our grand daughters. Imagine what will happen to future generations if it is not curbed now.

Do not be fooled by the words "tobacco harm reduction" peddled by the tobacco and vape industry. There is no harm reduction when someone becomes a life-long nicotine addict.

Be aware that 99 per cent of the e-liquid sold are nicotine based. Even when it is labelled as "nicotine-free", vaping is not free from risks.

Studies have shown potential harms associated with e-cigarettes, including respiratory issues and exposure to harmful chemicals. As mothers, it is heart-wrenching to see our children risk their future for fleeting moments of pleasure for peer approval.

Women shape the values and health habits of families. It is imperative that we stand united, using our collective strength to combat this looming health crisis.

Moreover, the financial drain from smoking and vaping cannot be ignored. Every ringgit spent on these products is a ringgit less for our children's education, family's health or community's development.

The economic implications are vast, with medical expenses for related health complications burdening the nation's healthcare system.

We pride ourselves on our rich traditions, close-knit communities, and emphasis on family. Smoking and vaping threaten these values by introducing divisiveness, health disparities, and increased mortality rates.

Some may argue that vaping is a personal choice, and that women have the right to do whatever they want with their bodies. This is a false and misleading notion.

Vaping is not a choice, it is an addiction. Thus, it is not empowering, it is enslaving, exposing women to nicotine - a highly addictive substance that affects brain development, mood and cognition.

Nicotine also increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as hypertension, heart attack, stroke, reproductive disorders that can lead to infertility, and many types of cancers.

Vaping is not a harmless hobby, it is a deadly habit. The cost of treatment for the diseases and complications related to vaping outweigh the cost of buying a vape pen and its e-liquid refills.

What is worse, the complications can be lifelong and will need long-term care at a healthcare facility.

With the rising cost of living worldwide, would it be safer and wiser to not vape at all, and instead invest the money for education and health?

Let's support the Generational End Game for Tobacco Control Policy towards a healthy and smoke-free society.


Deputy Coordinator of Nicotine Addiction Research and Collaborating Group (NARCC) and Family Medicine Specialist, University Malaya;


Member of NARCC and Impact Officer at Universiti Malaya Community Engagement Centre (UMCares); and


Member of NARCC and Public Health Medicine Specialist, UM

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times

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